Losing your passport sucks. It’s better to learn from others’ mistakes so you don’t have to go through it yourself. When you lose your passport in a foreign country it can be a desperate situation. First and foremost, keep calm. Amidst your freak out you are bound to make rash decisions or overlook some other detail that will only worsen your situation. Knowing what to do, where to go, who to see is paramount in reclaiming your vacation after a passport goes missing.
Most of the time your passport should remain guarded. You must produce it at the airport, customs, border crossings and in certain countries you must present it to the local tourism authority. In coastal Croatia our small group of five were required to provide our passport details to the owner of our vacation rental. After she had written down the information, all our passports were stacked neatly on the dinner table and when we went out later that night before locking up we decided to keep them together; a designated holder of passports so to speak. This is wrong. Unless everyone in your group is helpless and irresponsible but one the it’s best for everyone to be responsible for their own passport. In this case it was family travel so it seemed like a good idea at the time. We kept them with one person, in one location in our house and the days went by while we enjoy the coastal villages and beaches.
On the last morning I was out for a stroll along the marina when I heard a frustrated bellow echo through the town. I knew the voice, I knew where it was coming from and I knew exactly what had happened. Our designated passport keeper had left for the airport early that morning and taken all our passports with her. Those of us that remained were supposed to catch a flight to Greece that afternoon and as the reality set it our humanity dwindled. After the screaming and blaming surpassed we all piled into the rental car and drove at top speed to the capital in Zagreb. Here’s the next tip: someone bring a smartphone with global access. Along the way we located the US Embassy, made contact with someone there, found directions and checked the status of our flight.
We arrived in Zagreb and followed the directions to the Embassy where we were allowed ahead of the line outside because we were Americans. After going through security we were greeted by the most pleasant State Department staff who were pleased to help us out. We informed them of our situation, filled out a few pages of paperwork, sat in a photo booth while our photo was snapped and waited about 45 minutes while the very capable agents put together four temporary 3 month passports. In and out of the embassy in under 1.5 hours with new passport in hand. After another high-speed drive we were waiting in line at the airport and when the security agent said, “passports please” we smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.